eBothy Blog

Is the outdoors still great

Sunday Dec 8, 2019

Thunderstorm over Beinn Sgritheal on Knoydart from the Isle of Skye

With the news that the world’s oceans are running out of oxygen while humanity makes land grabs on habitats in order to blanket forest a fig-leaf for their unabated, voracious consumption and pollution. With the endless noise and light pollution of increased fish farm traffic up and down the west coast, implementing the Scottish government’s requirement to double output by 2030, regardless of animal welfare and environmental destruction. With hydro roads up many glens, industrial fencing marching with the West Highland Line from Glasgow to Fort William, creating in effect two Trump-like walls for wildlife to die negotiating, I asked myself the other day, is the outdoors still great?

Winter winds

Sunday Nov 10, 2019

Blaven from Beinn na Cro

Minus three on the tops, thirty mile an hour winds raking the last of autumn colour from the Cuillin ridge, laying down a white carpet ready for the arrival of the Winter Queen. Blasting down from the north, she detours out beyond St. Kilda, raising storm-seas in the cold Atlantic before swinging round Mingulay, resting on the raucus cliffs of Barra Head before howling in tonight to claim the mountains for her winter home.


Monday Aug 26, 2019

Blaven from the bivi on Slat Bheinn

A day off, what to do? With hot weather and a fair forecast for the Monday, it had to be a bivi up in the hills. I’d always fanced bivying on Slat Bheinn summit where it looks across to the wild east face of Blaven and gives aeriel views of Coire Uaigneich and so it was decided, intending to wander around the top, composing poems and jotting down philosophical gems in my notebook. The forecast mentioned increasing wind overnight, low cloud, then clearing. Turned out a bit wilder than that!

Just like the old days

Saturday Aug 3, 2019

Blaven, Isle of Skye

The summer on Skye continues with temperatures in the mid to high 20s, not much rain, soporific midges in the incessant heat and mountain burns down to low levels. I can’t remember a summer like this on the island. The BBC are now calling it “global heating” but it feels like a Mediterranean climate these last few months. Torrential rain and flooding across the country but the north west Highlands have been positively tropical since late April.

Sewing a frame pump bag

Saturday Jul 27, 2019

Mocking the pump bag for the bike

Getting ready for the next hundred mile ride I wanted to lighten the load and not use the Arkel Randonneur rack and bag. They’re great for commuting but I wanted to just use a seatpack for the ride but there’s nowhere to stow the pump. The Topeak Mini Dual DXG is a superb little pump and it comes with a bottle mount bracket. However, the weather up here is usually crap and I didn’t want it exposed to the elements all day. The solution? Make a wee bag for it.

A journey home

Tuesday Jul 9, 2019

Victory Stupa, Samye Ling

In the mid 80s I’d discovered I loved climbing mountains on my own and sitting in the middle of nowhere enjoying the solitude and responsibility of decision my own route to getting there. Mobile phones or GPS didn’t exist and the consequences were of my own making. Not bad for a 16 year old who’s first foray onto a mountain was 4 years previously on Ben More at Crianlarich. Ten years later I discovered John Muir while cycling/sailing round the inner Hebrides and recognised a kindred spirit. The last twenty years have been spent exploring remote places in that spirit and last week I finally found a kindred place where that spirit lives and is kept alive. I went to Samye Ling.

Solitude of pine tree hill

Wednesday Jul 3, 2019

Shelter on the mountain path above Loch Maree

An early start a week ago to get into the hills before the weather turned in the afternoon. Quiet, deserted roads from Skye, across to Achnasheen and over to Kinlochewe, pulling in to the nature reserve trails car park on the shore of Loch Maree as the camper vans slowly woke up, urinating grey torrents from their underside pipes onto the tarmac.

The freezing spring

Saturday May 11, 2019

An Stac, Isle of Skye

The Misty Isle is feeling the effects of climate change I think, with practically no rain for the last six weeks, freezing north easterlies and to top it all, snow down to 400m a couple of days ago. It’s unusual to get snow down that low even in winter and it’s mid May. Where is the warmth of spring?

Travels with Fatty

Friday Apr 26, 2019

Harris Bay and the mausoleum

Not a signal, not a sound, not a person save the unceasing roar of the sea.

Stravaiger films

Sunday Apr 21, 2019

I took a notion to ride the fatty down Glen Sligachan recently as the weather has been bone dry for a couple of weeks and the track would be less of a bog. I also took the notion of making a short film of the trip but it ended up being more of a philosophical insight into why I go to these places.

Flickr gallery